The Barcelona superstar scored the latest spectacular strike of his set-piece highlight reel this week, getting proceedings underway during the 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao in La Liga.

It seems to me that the phrase highlight reel is wrongfully wrongly placed. Getting proceedings underway what does it mean grammatically?

  • 1
    You're mistaken. Syntactically speaking, highlight reel is "correctly" placed - it's just semantically "unusual", because "highlight reel" implies the player had already completed all the actions from which some have been selected as "highlights", before scoring the first goal in the Bilbao match. In this context, to "get proceedings underway" simply means start (scoring goals; obviously both the teams were already playing football for some time before the first goal was scored). Jul 6, 2021 at 12:51
  • See this ELU question for an exploration of the difference between wrongfully and wrongly. Jul 6, 2021 at 12:55
  • He has a reel of his highlights and this highlight reel is of his role at set-pieces. We often pile up nouns like that.
    – mdewey
    Jul 6, 2021 at 13:22
  • 1
    Here, "set piece" acts as an adjective, modifying "highlight reel"
    – gotube
    Jul 8, 2021 at 7:34

1 Answer 1


You can’t understand it because it is in a peculiar dialect of English called “sports journalese,” which is usually understandable in context. Two particular aspects of that dialect are its use of simile and ignorance of the rules of prescriptive grammar.

The phrase “set piece highlight reel” may refer to an actual brief visual recording of the athlete’s most physically spectacular feats in important games or may be a metaphor for the athlete’s career. You will have to deduce that from the context. There is nothing wrong with its placement.

“Getting …” is what is called a dangling modifier and is improper according to the rules of prescriptive grammar. You cannot be sure what it is modifying. Unfortunately, descriptive grammar must admit that dangling modifiers in speech and the writing of the semi-literate abound. It is what is misplaced.

In this case, its use is particularly inept due to the rather dizzying mix of metaphors. Here is what I suspect is the meaning

The superstar from Barcelona started the game off with a brilliant strike, the latest in his long series of spectacular feats.

I cannot be sure that is what is meant without more context. In many respects, it is dubious whether most sports reporting is intended to inform rather than to entertain by the flamboyance of its language.

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